Yankees' remaining schedule presents toughest road to Wild Card

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Giancarlo Stanton watches as he hits a home run
Giancarlo Stanton watches as he hits a home run

Looking at the Wild Card standings entering Sunday, the Yankees currently sit half a game behind the Toronto Blue Jays. The Boston Red Sox have a game ahead of the Jays after winning their last four games.

With just 13 games left to play, it's officially crunch time with just two weeks left of the regular season. And make no mistake, of those three teams we just mentioned, the Bombers have the toughest stretch to finish.

As Gerrit Cole takes the mound in the series finale with the Cleveland Indians Sunday, the Yankees will welcome the Texas Rangers for a three-game set. Then, they face the AL East gauntlet: Red Sox, Jays and Rays respectively all in three-game series.

Aaron Boone has been saying the Yanks still control their own destiny, and that's certainly the case when facing the two teams currently ahead of them in the standings (if it still remains that way following the Texas series). However, when you look at the Sox and Jays over their final series, they have it much easier which could hurt New York in the end.

Looking at Boston first, the have a quick, two-game set against the Mets before welcoming the Yanks to Fenway Park for the final time of the regular season. But after that, they have a relatively easy road to finish with the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals in their final six games of the season.

And for the Jays, they have a tough set against the Rays to start this week, but follow with a Minnesota Twins four-game set, where they should be heavily favored. Then, after the Yanks series, the Orioles are the final three games of their schedule, giving them an easy opponent to potentially help their case for a Wild Card spot.

That is why the Yanks must finish this Cleveland series on the winning side, and they have a good guy on the bump in Cole to help them do that. But the Rangers series is even more crucial -- winnable games as the Jays face the Rays which could knock them out of that second Wild Card spot.

But ultimately, the Yankees would prove worthy of a postseason berth if they can power through those tough Al East series to finish the season, especially if it comes down to needing to defeat the Rays to make it in.

These moments are what teams play for. The Yankees find themselves in the driver's seat and every game has more weight than the last one.

It all starts Sunday as the AL Wild Card race continues to reach volcanic lava heat at this point in the campaign.